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Poly has integrated its enterprise UC headsets with Amazon Alexa, the latest step toward bringing AI voice assistants into the workplace.
The headset integration follows Poly's announcement in March that it would embedded Alexa in its Trio conference room phone, the first Alexa integration of its kind by a phone maker.
Businesses now have built-in access to Alexa through Poly's Voyager 4200 series UC headsets. The integration also extends to the Voyager 5200 series, a small earpiece designed for on-the-go conversations.
Poly certified the integration through Amazon's Alexa Built-in Badge Program, which lets hardware makers link their devices to the voice assistant. Other participants in the program include Jabra, Dell, Lenovo and Bose.
Users press a button on the Voyager headset to access the Alexa app on their mobile phones. They could use the feature to place a call, send a message or schedule a meeting. IT administrators can enable Alexa for uses through the Plantronics Manager Pro, the vendor's headset management service.
Also this week, Poly launched an integration with Tile Inc. to help users locate misplaced Voyager headsets. Tile's software causes the headsets to make a loud noise until they are found.
AI voice assistants in the enterprise market
Although useful in some ways, the benefits of Poly's integrations with Alexa thus far are limited, said Raúl Castañón-Martinez, senior analyst at 451 Research. AI voice assistants will become more useful in the workplace when they integrate with other business apps, he said.
"The tasks that are enabled are impressive but will have a limited impact in an employee's productivity unless and until there is a deeper integration with the enterprise applications that employees use to get their work done," Castañón-Martinez said.
AI voice assistants have begun to creep into the enterprise market over the past couple years. Cisco's Webex Assistant, for example, lets users schedule and join meetings with their voice. And just this week Microsoft said it plans to release headphones that will let users verbally interact with Office 365 apps.
Amazon has been more aggressive than rivals Apple and Google at targeting the enterprise market with its AI voice assistant, launching Alexa for Business in 2017. The product gives IT departments a console for managing Alexa use within an organization.
But many businesses are still concerned that use of AI voice assistants could compromise privacy. Amazon, Google and Apple came under fire earlier this year after media reports revealed that their employees sometimes listened to voice recordings in an effort to improve service.
"Even though speech-enabled applications and voice-powered assistants like Alexa are everywhere these days and consumers are very familiar with them, it is still early days for the enterprise," Castañón-Martinez said.